“Most gifts come with a price, but you can learn to manage it.” I love Gordon. He’s a lovely human being, what with the no eyes and the bamfing and the philosophical insights into the entire Marvel universe. Because basically this quote is the point of the Marvel universe. We’re rooting for the monsters a lot of the time: an enormous green Mr. Hyde, a radioactive spider-man, Reed Richards. But they’re monsters, not because they’re bad people, but because this is the price they pay for a gift, and it very much depends on how you view the price that determines your feelings about existing in a Marvel story line.
First things first, there was some absolutely amazing fight work tonight. There’s nothing like kicking off an episode with Bobbi saving Mac from Hydra. to throw us right back into liking these two, just in case we’d strayed before. Seriously, this has to be one of the best teasers this show has produced, if not the best. Mac and Bobbi beating up Hydra agents, a lot of badass comic book style posing, and the return of Lucy Lawless—a moment of silence for Hartley, taken from us before she could continue to wow us with the purity of her awesomeness—what’s not to love? Also finding out that Hydra agents get annoyed with being compared to Nazis is an extra bonus. As they’re viciously killing people for information, their opinion is officially invalid, so I’m just gonna throw this out for any Hydra agents reading this: You are Nazis. Nazi! Nazi, Nazi, Nazi, Nazi, Mel Brooks wouldn’t even put you in a musical because you are just that much Nazis.
Follow that with Coulson at his spy vs. spy best. The man uses Lola to lure Mac into a trap. Now, that is some espionage that would make Black Widow proud. It goes swimmingly (even though Mac isn’t being horribly cooperative), at least until Bobbi takes out the power. The lead up to this is may be the best fight ever featured on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. May catches Bobbi stealing Fury’s toolbox and the hand-to-hand grapple that ensues is both visually and, for those of us into fight choreography, technically beautiful. Hand-to-hand fighting is hard enough, doing it on your knees even for a few seconds is ridiculous. Ultimately Bobbi and Mac get away from their prospective captors, but neither make a break for the exit. Hmmm, I sense a foul plot is afoot.
All of this before fantastic Gordon even shows up, but don’t worry we’re getting there. Skye is up next and is finally ready to try Simmons’ magic power gloves at the worst possible time. Skye! Why, Skye, why? Oddly enough, nothing too horrible happens. But while Skye tries to solve the mystery of the crappy Internet connection (Probable Answer: Comcast.), she does find that her wooden cabin is actually wooden paneling covering some very metal walls. I’m a fan of the well done cinematic tie-ins, and seeing the Hulk-sized fist print in the wall made for a truly fan girl-worthy moment on my part. It’s not everyday I pause an episode of this show to look up pictures from The Incredible Hulk for comparison. Today was that day.
Still, while my Marvel-sense was tingling, there was no time for Skye to marvel at the giant fist in her wall as we shifted tone into a horror movie. Creepy noises and passing shadows are enough to make Skye lament watching Paranormal Activity. Grrr, missed opportunity for a Cabin in the Woods reference. Okay, yeah that would have been a bit on the nose, but still…oh knock on the door in the middle of nowhere better go see who that—AH, IT’S NO-EYES!
It’s in the conversation that follows that I challenge you not to love Gordon just a little bit. He’s very supportive of Skye, admittedly bad at jokes, and hits nails on the head better than most characters with two working eyes. Seriously, he’d make a good therapist if this whole “leading a band of Mist born mutants” thing doesn’t pan out. Also can we all agree to spell the magical Mist, M-Y-S-T from now on? Just to give it a little more mystique. So, Gordon explains to Skye that the Myst is a bit of a wonderful crapshoot—that the most important thing is not how it changes you, but how the people around you treat you after you gain your super powers. For example, Gordon gets a hug, while Skye gets suspicion and imprisonment. The man has a point. He also has a stronger grasp on what Skye’s powers actually are. Apparently she can feel the vibrations that all things give off and manipulate them. It’s a bit new age, but a 100% improvement over random earthquake powers. Gordon wants to take Skye away to “a place with people like us,” but ultimately leaves the choice up to her. Spoiler Alert: before the end of the episode, she’ll go.
Evoking her super power of unassuming, scatterbrained scientist (A.K.A. Jane-Jitsu), Simmons tricks Bobbi into knocking herself unconscious. Yay, working with what you’ve got Jemma! May searches through Bobbi’s locker and finds a gas mask, just in time to realize that Bobbi and Mac aren’t trying to get out, S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 is trying to get in. For dramatic effect this happens just as our bad guys (?) break in via an explosion. And I just can’t stay mad at Mac. Seriously Mac, do whatever you want because I know you’ll always have good reasons and will ultimately redeem yourself. This time by saving Fitz from that very explosion.
The result of this invasion is a bit of a mixed bag. Coulson gets the chance to do the Loki prisoner strut, complete with meaningful eye contact between himself and his adversary (In this case, Bobbi). Warren confirms that Skye’s cabin is “the house that Banner built.” Points! And May continues to prove herself the most competent agent in all of S.H.I.E.L.D., simply by hiding and letting Skye know what’s gone down.
We finally get to the Coulson vs. Adama—sorry, Gonzales—conversation we’ve been waiting for, and yep Gonzales is kind of blindly obnoxious. It’s pretty clear he’s not prepared to have a conversation with Coulson, so much as make demands. Through a bit of long-winded Frankenstein comparisons with Phil and Fury and the help of a flashback, we see that Gonzales wants to change the way S.H.I.E.L.D. is run—make it more democratic, so to speak. Still, he’s going about it in a pretty obnoxious way, so don’t feel too bad when May tranquilizes him before pushing Coulson out to go find Skye.
Skye—who is already fleeing S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 agents and Bobbi in the woods. Bobbi orders her fellow agents to use icers only as Skye is an agent like them. Based off their reactions to this order, it’s becoming pretty clear that Bobbi’s starting to feel like she made a mistake in picking their team. As if to prove this, Bobbi and Agent Calderon (you remember, the guy from O.Z.) end up in a conversation where Calderon basically says Skye is a monster. Followed immediately by a live gunshot. So much for just using icers. They run to the scene, just in time to find Skye tussling with another Agent. Calderon pulls his gun, Bobbi calls out to Skye, and Skye does her best Sue Storm impression. Once she has quite literally blown them away, Skye calls for Gordon. And before you can say “Bye Skye,” they’re gone. Somehow even with all this chaos Bobbi emerges with perfect hair. Perfect hair, but an uneasy, nauseous feeling in her stomach. This is one of those “gifts coming with a price” situations, and it’s pretty clear Bobbi isn’t sure which is which anymore
We ended last night where we began in a way: Coulson in Tahiti, a metaphor for the ultimate gift vs. price debate of this show. Though, this time he’s meeting up with Hunter, and the two of them are going to be just the team to take S.H.I.E.L.D. back. Ah Tahiti; it really is a magical place.
Katherine Siegel is a Chicago-based freelance writer and director and a regular contributor to Paste. You can find out more by checking out her website, or follow her on Twitter.